National Nuclear Security Administration

Cheaper catalyst may lower fuel costs for hydrogen-powered cars

October 7, 2015

You are here

NNSA BlogSandia National Laboratories post-doctoral fellow Stan Chou demonstrates the reaction of more efficiently catalyzing hydrogen. In this simulation, the color is from dye excited by light and generating electrons for the catalyst molybdenum disulfide to evolve hydrogen.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Sandia National Laboratories researchers seeking to make hydrogen a less expensive fuel for cars have upgraded a plentiful catalyst nearly as cheap as dirt — molybdenum disulfide, “molly” for short — to stand in for platinum, a rare element with the moonlike price of $1,500 a gram.

Simple Sandia-induced changes take the 37-cents-a-gram molly from being a welterweight outsider in the energy-catalyst field — put crudely, a lazy bum that never amounted to much — to a possible contender with the heavyweight champ.

The catalyst’s action can be triggered by sunlight, which eventually may provide users an off-the-grid means of securing hydrogen fuel.

To learn more, click here.